I saw this TED talk on the Quirkyalone website entitled "Connected but alone?" The talk is given by MIT professor Sherry Turkle who studies the impact of the cyber world (such as Twitter and Facebook) on our psyche. Some interesting quotes:
We are "hiding from each other even as we're all constantly connected to each other."
"People can't get enough of each other if and only if they can have each other at a distance in amounts they can control."
She says that real conversation equals connection, that we aren't getting to know each other through tweets and status updates. She says that "no one is listening."
I went to a new coffee place in another part of town yesterday, to get out of the house and delay starting work. Typically I go to a Starbucks near my house, and the scenario was the same in this new place as in Starbucks: people, mostly alone, riveted to their laptops/iPhones/iPads, wearing headphones. I suppose you could say this is no worse than when people read the paper in a coffee house, but the headphones are isolating. It makes me wonder: why do they even go into Starbucks? I'm in a suburban area, and there isn't much real foot traffic, so it's not like they are just ducking in to grab a cup of coffee on their way to the subway. People have to make an effort to go there. Why not just stay at home and cruise the Internet?